Those [data centers] that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

train-wreck-steam-locomotive-locomotive-railway-73821The sentiment in the headline is a pithy reminder of the importance of understanding the past.

The unfortunately long list of datacenter operators that suffered outages in 2017 would do well to heed those words.

Specifically, how can operators that don’t undertake a thorough root-cause analysis after an outage expect to prevent further downtime in the future?

I’ve been working with UK datacenter design company Future-tech that provides specialist forensic engineering services to help root out the causes of downtime and help harden facilities against future outages.

Head over to Future-tech’s site to see their take on the importance of thoroughly investigating the causes of unplanned downtime.

Interview with Dominic Ward from Verne Global on new HPC cloud service

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 10.40.52I recently spoke with Iceland-based colocation and cloud services provider Verne Global about their new HPC-as-a-service (HPCaaS) offering hpcDIRECT.

Verne’s managing director Dominic Ward explained how the hpcDIRECT was a natural extension of its colocation services but will also take the company into some new areas in the future.

“I think the balance over time will shift towards more customers wanting to consume more HPCaaS. However for now I think the balance will remain that customers will want the majority – anything over 50% – in a colocation environment while wanting to start to test our HPCaaS. But I do think there will be gradual migration in the same way we have seen that shifting for enterprise cloud environments, or enterprise applications, I do think that is coming for HPC as well”

Head to Verne’s website for the full interview and for more about hpcDIRECT.

As the Climate Changes, So Should Data Center Operations

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The eye of Hurricane Irma is clearly visible from the International Space Station as it orbited over the Category 5 storm on Sept. 5, 2017.

My last column of the year over at Data Center Knowledge.

It’s based on a very informative and wide-ranging webcast from Uptime Institute earlier this week entitled: 10 Must-Answer Questions For Your 2018 Data Center Strategy.

One of the issues examined by the Uptime panel was how data center operators should respond to extreme weather events caused by global warming.

Uptime CTO Chris Brown argued that hardening facilities against extreme weather and temperatures was not the only issue. Operators also need to put the right procedures in place around data center staffing to better manage extreme weather events. “These last few storms have got people thinking about the operations personnel,” he said. “If you have a major storm coming through, people living and working in that area have their own homes, their own families, their own things to worry about. They are usually going to give those things their attention first before the data center. That is just human nature.”

Head to DCK for the full article.

Cloud is Shaking Up Japan’s Earthquake-Ready Data Centers


My latest column over at DCK is based on a conversation with the chief executive of Colt Data Centre Services (DCS) Detlef Spang whose company has just opened its latest facility in Japan.

He outlined some of the opportunities and challenges for building out new capacity in Japan. Land costs necessitate multi-story data centers despite the ever present risk of earthquakes.

High energy costs also have to be weighed against humidity levels and temperatures in the summer which make some free-cooling technologies challenging to deploy.

We also touched on Colt’s foray into prefabricated modular designs which it has now scaled back.

For more head over to Data Center Knowledge.

Verne Global moves into HPC as a service

Iceland-based data centre operator Verne Global is expanding beyond its core collocation services.

The company launched an HPC-as-a-service platform this week:

hpcDIRECT provides a fully scalable, bare metal service with the ability to rapidly provision the full performance of HPC servers uncontended and in a secure manner.

I recently spoke with Verne managing director Dominic Ward about the service and the resulting interview will be published on Verne’s website soon.

For more details on hpcDIRECT see the full release.

Subterranean data centers emerge from the underground

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Lefdal Mine Data Center, Norway

My latest column over at Data Center Knowledge asks whether underground data centers, such as the recently opened Lefdal Mine facility, in Norway are becoming more commonplace.

Lefdal has taken the concept of underground data centers and run with it. The facility, backed by regional investors and Norwegian power company SFE, has potential to reach capacity of 120,000 square meters (1.3 million square feet) of  data center space and more than 200MW of IT capacity. If fully utilized it would be the biggest data center in Europe.

As with other underground data centers, the organizations behind LMD – which also include Rittal and IBM – make much of the site’s physical security. However, its cooling system and access to cheap renewable energy are probably the standout features of the site.

More at DCK.

If Software is Eating the Data Center, Power is Its Next Meal

My latest Critical Thinking Column for Data Center Knowledge looks at how even Power could eventually be software defined.

The concept of the software-defined data center has been bandied around the industry for several years now. 

Essentially it refers to the idea that all of the IT infrastructure within a facility — networking, storage, and compute — can be virtualized and software controlled.

More recently some progressive industry experts and suppliers have tried to apply the same approach to facilities infrastructure.

More at Data Center Knowledge.

EdgeMicro Plots to Disrupt Edge Colocation, 48kW at a Time

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 07.40.01My latest Critical Thinking column over at DataCenter Knowledge looks at edge colocation start-up EdgeMicro which wants to build out a network of container data centres on mobile towers to serve content.

EdgeMicro co-founder Greg Pettine explained to me that the company’s business model is similar in some respects to edge colocation specialist EdgeConneX but involves building out capacity in much smaller chunks.

“If you look at the EdgeConneX model, they were funded by the cable guys, by Akamai and so forth, who said we need 500kW of capacity in Tier 2 cities,” says Pettine. “Our focus is to just spread that out. As they expand – Netflix, Amazon, any of them – they will need to put more capacity in multiple markets in the next 12 months. What if we spread out and put that in the wireless edge, where most of the content is being consumed anyway?”

Its secret sauce is an appliance called Tower Traffic Xchange, or TTX. The TTX essentially creates an intelligent interface between wireless devices, wireless networks, and content — something that Pettine says hasn’t existed until now. The current process for serving content to a mobile device can be extremely convoluted and expensive.

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More over at DCK.

Is the race to exascale really a ‘moon shot’ endeavour?

Apollo 11 Crew Suited Up

My latest blog over at Verne Global is about the race to develop the first Exascale system which was discussed at the Data Center Dynamics Zettastructure event in London in November.

In a session entitled ‘The race to Exascale – meeting the IT infrastructure needs of HPC’ a panel of experts discussed the benefits of achieving the next big breakthrough in supercomputing.

Peter Hopton, founder of UK-based liquid cooling specialist Iceotope argued that China is focused on being the first to exascale but is less interested in the benefits the breakthrough could bring.

“They will be able to achieve the required number of flops to say they have done it. But it’s a bit like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and then taking off again without stepping out of the door because they didn’t build a door on the capsule,” he said.

More over at Verne Global.

Schneider Electric gets behind Direct Liquid Cooling

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The CTO of Schneider Electric’s IT division Kevin Brown said he expects direct liquid cooling (DLC) to become increasingly important in the near future.

Brown was speaking at the Datacenter Dynamics, Zettastructure event in London on 7-8 November.

Schneider has previously hesitated to endorse the technology despite its $10 million investment in DLC start-up Iceotope.

However,  speaking at the London event Brown said the technology will be more widely adopted as rack power densities increase due to the expected growth in GPUs and other factors.

Immersive DLC – where servers are submerged in dielectric fluid – can enable operators to lower cooling costs by more than 15% compared to conventional air-based cooling, according to Schneider. The company is expected to release more details of its TCO analysis in the near future.

Brown referred to some of the articles on DLC from Datacenter Knowledge including one of my recent columns.

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